Tuesday, February 08, 2005

I’ll Be in School Longer Than I Thought (but I’m okay with it now!)

So lately I’ve been really stressed out what to do about school this summer. Let me explain…

Coming into the Masters of Social Work program we are told it is a 2-year program, but that is like an advertisement you might see on television because you got to be sure to note all the fine print. What they don’t tell you out front is that it is a 2-year program assuming you are going to take 15 credit hours a semester and do summers too. Now, at first, that might not sound like a lot, 15 hours, but in graduate school, a full-time student is no longer 12-hours, it is 9-hours simply because the classes consist of more work than undergraduate course…yadda yadda yadda... Anyways, so 15-hours is a heavy load in graduate school. Also, some of those course in the program are two field practicums (AKA internships) that must be completed (one each year), and those will take anywhere from 25-40 working hours per week out of your schedule (so you have to take that into consideration when planning your other classes that semester when you’re doing those practicums).

So, all this being said, I went into the program this past fall with expectations to graduate in August 2006. Yeah, they probably told me all that stuff about 15 hours a semester and summers and crap, and I was just like… “yadda yadda yadda” and went on looking forward to August 2006 like none other! Trust me, I’m so sick and tired of school!

Well here I am in the semester before my first summer in the program and I’m thinking, “I can’t possibly do this first field practicum this summer! I have a responsibility to nanny my little cousins this summer in order to keep living with my uncle and there’s no way I can nanny them and go to my internship 36.5 hours a week (which is how many hours it if you choose to do it during the summer sessions).” So then I was like, well you know, if I continue to work my butt off this semester and make enough money, I can move out into an apartment and maybe my sister would take over the nannying job this summer. But then of course this won’t work because I won’t be able to work during the summer to pay my bills that I’ll have for having moved out because I’ll have to work at my internship basically 40 hours a week and we don’t get paid for that.

So then I was faced with the thought of putting off my field practicum until this fall. With that thought all I could think of were depressing thoughts. Stuff like “this will put off graduation for another semester! I GOTTA get this finished…school is driving me nuts!” and “this will put me behind all my peers and friends in my classes so I won’t be able to have classes with them anymore” and “how come I was able to finish my undergraduate in the 4 years but I can’t do this 2-year program in time?!?!” Oh how the negative thoughts kept coming and all I could think of what a “slacker” this would make me if I put it off until the fall.

Honestly, I hadn’t really talked about any of this with anyone in depth because I’m not one to ask for help especially about live decisions for myself (because that’s my own job, right!??! Why would anyone else know what to tell me to do!?!) It had gotten the best of me on Saturday I suppose it was. I had been thinkin’ about it all last week. Some more on Friday, and couldn’t concentrate on much on Saturday either because of it (mainly because I knew I needed to make a decision about what to do this summer since they were having a meeting at school on Monday for people taking the summer practicum). So I couldn’t keep it in much longer and it all came out on Saturday (gosh, that makes it sound really nasty, huh?!?! HA!) I venting all this stress to one of my best buddies online and she listened to me, which was basically all I really just needed, especially since I knew she wouldn’t be able to tell me what to do. HA! But she did tell me one thing that really made me feel better (kinda brought tears to my eyes, but you know how those vulnerable moments are when you’re stressed out…HA!) I told her how I didn’t want to be behind my fellow peers who started the program with me and I didn’t want to not have classes with my friends anymore if I got behind and she said, “if there is one thing i know about you it is that you can make friends with anyone so if you are in different classes, you will make friends no problem.” And I thought about it, and that’s really true for anyone if they want it to be. Anyone who is determined to make new friends can. And really, I don’t think it is that I was worried about not being able to make new friends, it was the whole idea of being set back from the other people and viewing myself as “behind” or “slower” or “not as good”. Either way…I was feeling a little better about making the decision after getting it all out there.

So it was time to get a piece of paper and map out my future in effort to see for sure when I would be able to graduate if I put off the internship till the fall. Of course the “time” to do this fell in the middle of my Research class yesterday because I was struggling to stay awake (which probably isn’t a good thing since we have an Exam in there next week and I haven’t even cracked the textbook yet…HA!). Either way, I started drafting plans. I did one for if I took the practicum this summer afterall; one if I took it in the fall without any taking any classes this summer; and one if I took it this fall and still took one or two courses this fall. And you know what…even if I did take the practicum this summer, the ONLY way I would be able to graduate in August 2006 would be to totally BUST my butt next semester because I’d have to do a practicum during the semesters with courses and it would make for a lot of credit hours a semester and I don’t know if I can do all that PLUS work at my job (because it ain’t like mommy and daddy are sending me money…HA)!

So, I told myself, “you know what? What is the rush? Yeah, you’re tired of school, but what is one more semester when you’ve got the rest of your life to have school finished with (AKA be working). There is absolutely nothing wrong with graduating in December 2006, especially with the program you will have finished.”

Let me explain the part about “especially with the program you will have finished.” Yes, most Masters programs are 2-year programs, but if you look at the credit hours required in different programs, they vary greatly! Most are not like our social work program and don’t require as many hours, so 15 credit hours a semester and summers are not expected in those other programs. Let me give you an idea of credit hours required for some different masters programs.

Accounting – 36 at UTA; 30 hours at ACU
Clinical Psychology – 48 hours at ACU
Counseling Psychology – 48 hours at ACU
Education – 36 at UTA; 36-39 hours at ACU
Marriage and Family Therapy – 60 hours at ACU
Nursing – 38 at UTA; 45-53 hours at ACU
School Psychology – 60 hours at ACU
Social Work – 64 hours at UTA

See, with some programs we (Masters of Social Work students at UTA) are required to have almost twice as many hours than some other disciplines.

So, you ask, “What am I going to do?” Well, I ended up getting to talk to a really helpful peer yesterday during my dinner break at school (you can read more about her in my blog from last night) and she helped me with some ideas about when to take different courses (as well as who to take and who not to take), so I am about 98% sure I’m not going to be doing my internship till this fall. And as for classes this summer. I’m not sure yet, I’m still deciding, because after I mapped out my future plans, whether I take a class or two this summer doesn’t affect the plans that much either way. And I also thought, you know what, I could probably enjoy one more summer off from school and just working leisurely for my uncle as a nanny and in his office, because I already have a couple weddings in St. Louis I’d like to be able to go to this summer and we are already talking about summer vacation plans for this year with the “fam;” as my uncle said to me a week or so ago in the kitchen “So where do you want to go on the family vacation this summer to Kimberly?” HA! I just laughed and said, “I don’t know.” HA!

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